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inshore mangrove snapper fishing william toney in the spread
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Inshore Mangrove Snapper | William Toney

When you just don't feel like making a longer run or the the seas are on the bumpier side, inshore mangrove snapper is a great option. There is nothing ever wrong with catching grovers. This may be one of the easier species to catch. Believe me, with the fishing tips and techniques we share in this video, you will be in snapper heaven. This species has to be one of the best eating fish in the ocean. They are great on the grilled, fried, pan seared or any other way you cook fish. So, for those of you that are more inclined to stay near shore, we are going to show you how to catch mangrove snapper inshore with Capt. William Toney.

Mangrove snapper are so named due to their preference for living around the mangroves that line southern coastal waters when they are young. It is the juvenile fish that are mostly caught inshore. As they mature, the fish will move offshore. A good inshore mangrove snapper will be 14-15 inches and maybe weight a couple of pounds, maybe a little more. As they move offshore, the fish get upwards of 20 pounds. The beauty of the inshore fish is that you don't have to venture far and they are just as tasty, if not more.

Snapper tend to be bottom dwellers, but can be found schooling higher up in the water column during feeding periods. The one constant with mangrove snapper is their proclivity to orient around structure. If ever there was a place to find grovers, it is on hard structure. Piers, bridges, jetties, rock piles, oyster beds, ledges and any shallow reefs are excellent places to find mangrove snapper inshore. It is almost a guarantee that if you drop a good bait on inshore structure, you will catch this feisty little snapper.

Capt. William Toney has been fishing the inshore and backcountry waters of Florida his entire life. He has traveled and fished from Louisiana down around Florida and up to North Carolina chasing redfish, snook, sea trout, snapper and every other inshore species. With the Nature Coast of Florida, in particular Homosasssa, Florida being his home and base for his guiding operation, William is privy to fishing some of the most fertile coastal waters in the state.

Homosassa is a classic sport fishing destination, iconic in every sense. William, as a fourth generation hunting and fishing guide, knows the waters as well as any waterman alive and probably every rock that holds mangrove snapper. He is savvy in his approach to fishing, super chill and willing to share every bit of his fishing knowledge. Catching fish is almost effortless for him. What makes fishing with him so special is the ease with which he demonstrates how to catch fish. He is patient and down to earth, making William a great person to listen to and learn from. The point that mangrove snapper are structure oriented fish cannot be stressed enough. If you find good structure, you will find fish. If you are twenty feet away from the structure, you may catch nothing but junk fish. You have to be presenting baits in very close proximity to the reef, rocks, pilings, etc., if you expect to stack these gems in your cooler.

Even though inshore mangrove snapper are not huge, a fourteen inch fish on light tackle will give you a good go. You only need 15-20 lb leaders for these guys. The more clear the water, the lighter your leader will need to be. Grovers have superb eyesight. Just be conscious of that when fishing ultra clear water. The main line will be braid in the 10-12 lb range.

The mangrove snapper fishing rig is about as simple as it gets. You have your fluorocarbon leader and a light jig head. William touches on jig head and lure color for inshore fish and the importance of getting them right. From his perspective, color matters. You have to remember, William Toney spends 300 days a year fishing, so he really had this stuff dialed in. He will show you what he has success with for most any shallow water reef fish.

Finger mullet, sardines, pinfish and crabs are all great baits, but if there was only one bait to use, it would have to be live shrimp. Nothing gets bitten like a live shrimp. Even though rigging live shrimp is not that difficult, William will share a few tips for how to hook live shrimp on a jig head. You don't want to kill your shrimp before it's in the water.

If there is one predictable aspect to snapper fishing it is the way they bite. The classic peck, peck, pull or tap, tap and then the feel of weight on the line is standard. The way they bite can quickly be identified and you will know whether you are getting bites from the target species. The way they fight is also a dead give away.

As if structure has been mentioned enough, you will need to located and mark go to spots. As you fish from inshore mangrove snapper more and more, your list of spots will grow. This will serve you well down the road. I say this, because you will need multiple spots, at times. The bite can turn on and off like a light switch. Yes, you can limit out on one spot, but if you dither after getting a bite, the fish may scatter. Once you get into the fish, keep the action going. Do not stop to take photos or you could miss the frenzy. Hammer the snapper, while you can. Get what you can and move on. Spot hopping is common. Once junk fish start taking your baits, it is time to move, as well.

This is not difficult fishing, it just requires attention to detail. Capt. William Toney quickly breaks down how to get setup on structure so as not to disturb the fish while being in position to put baits on target. Once you have the tackle, rigs, baits, and tactics down, as well as understand how to properly anchor up on a spot, you are well on your way to catching a mess of mangrove snapper. We hope the information in this In The Spread video helps you become a better angler.

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